26.9 C
Accra
Saturday, January 22, 2022
No menu items!

Sierra Leone gangster leaves streets for life of poetry

Must Read

Two persons arrested in Volta Region for peddling narcotics

SOURCE: GNA The Ketu Divisional Police Command has arrested two suspects, Kpelly Kwame, 29 and Anani Sasu, 19, for peddling...

Minerals Commission shuts down operations at MAXAM Ghana

By Desmond Cudjoe The Minerals Commission has closed down the operations of MAXAM following the January 18, 2022, explosion at...

Ghana to face Nigeria in World Cup play-offs

The Black Stars will face the Super Eagles of Nigeria as both sides battle for a spot at the...

In his poem “Rough Path”, Yousef Kamara reflects on his years selling drugs and stealing as the leader of a street gang in Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.

Like a traveler in a rough jungle/Self propelling all alone/Edging through danger sharper than blades/My rough path is a cracked zone,” he writes.

After quitting the gang three years ago, Kamara now hopes his journey to acclaim as a poet can offer an example to other wayward youths in Freetown, where increasing numbers are joining gangs modeled on the Bloods and Crips of Los Angeles.

Kamara has been published in several international poetry magazines and was invited last year to attend the African Writers Conference in Kenya.

It is a dramatic turnaround for someone who spent the majority of his life leading Giverdam Gaza, a gang of several dozen members he founded as a teenager on Freetown’s Exodus Lane.

“If you were looking for some thugs … to beat somebody up, you’d just rush down Exodus Lane and get the Giverdam boys to do the job,” said Kamara, who stands about six-feet tall with short dreadlocks and large biceps covered in tattoos.

Tired of life on the streets, however, he began looking for an exit and found one through Way Out, a media studio founded by an English filmmaker in 2008 that encourages underprivileged young people to enter the arts.

Kamara decided to try his hand writing poems after seeing some of his friends enroll in a poetry course. He quickly took to it, tapping out verses on his beat-up cell phone.

“You need to give people … something they can take back to their communities and say, ‘I’m not the bad guy you used to know’,” said Gibrilla Kamara, no relation to Yousef, Way Out’s office manager and a former member who spent much of his life homeless.

Kamara said he would like to establish his own organization to help vulnerable young people build self-esteem and shift “from crime to career”.

The challenge is pressing. Across Sierra Leone, dire economic conditions, including runaway unemployment, have led many born after the country’s devastating 1991-2002 civil war to join gangs, researchers say.

Kamara thinks poetry can be a powerful tool in combating that trend by forcing young people to be honest with themselves.

“When writing a poem, if you can be sincere with what you’ve seen, what you feel, what you’ve heard, you’ll never need to fabricate any story,” he said.

SourceReuters

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Two persons arrested in Volta Region for peddling narcotics

SOURCE: GNA The Ketu Divisional Police Command has arrested two suspects, Kpelly Kwame, 29 and Anani Sasu, 19, for peddling...

Minerals Commission shuts down operations at MAXAM Ghana

By Desmond Cudjoe The Minerals Commission has closed down the operations of MAXAM following the January 18, 2022, explosion at Appiate in the Prestea-Huni Municipality...

Ghana to face Nigeria in World Cup play-offs

The Black Stars will face the Super Eagles of Nigeria as both sides battle for a spot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup scheduled...

Black Stars Coach Milovan sacked! Possible replacements emerge

By Vanessa Adjei          The Ghana Football Association, GFA has sacked Black Stars Head Coach, Milovan Rajevac. The GFA decision follows an emergency meeting...

WACAM, others intensify calls for responsible, safe mining practices

Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining, WACAM, and the Center for Environmental Impact Analysis have reiterated their call on all mining companies to...

More Articles Like This